Police say about 2,000 people from across Connecticut turned out to worship and to help a man from Waterbury attain sainthood in the Catholic church.
“It just seemed that we should be here,” said Michael Kosko from Shelton.
Kosko is a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic charitable organization that helps people throughout the world. It was founded by Father Michael McGivney, who grew up in Waterbury and died in 1890 at the age of 38.
Kosko was at the service to support Father McGivney — the man who founded the organization he’s so proud to be a part of.
“The things he did were just all saintly throughout his life,” Kosko said.
Father McGivney also got high praise from the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford and from the mayor of Waterbury.
“At a time when immigrants and working people didn’t have much security at all in the 19th century and Father McGivney saw how when men died on the job very young and left their wives and children with nothing because they had nothing that they could give them, he wanted to establish this insurance program for widows and children of Catholic laymen and, of course, not only if they died young but if they lived longer, some form of social assistance of security,” said Archbishop Leonard Paul Blair. “So, the Knights of Columbus began as this fraternal — and it still is — a fraternal organization to provide insurance to help people.”
“Father McGivney was known as a devout Catholic, but he was also known as a very welcoming priest in the Waterbury community to welcome in thousands of immigrants from all over the world,” said Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary.
Father McGivney’s legacy with the Knights of Columbus is stronger than ever before. The organization has grown to more than 2 million members. Last year, The Knights of Columbus donated more than $177 million to causes around the world and its members worked more than 75 million service hours for charity.
“They say we’re Knights of Columbus, knights of charity, and they do tremendous work,” said Archbishop Blair. “And they contribute a tremendous amount of funds to help people, not only in this country, but in other countries too.”
Kosko is keeping the faith that the man he looks up to can rise to sainthood.
“It was just his giving that was fantastic,” Kosko said. “Hopefully we can carry that on as Knights.”
According to church officials, the next step in the process for Father McGivney to attain sainthood is a message from God that Father McGivney has helped to perform a miracle — curing someone from an illness that can’t be explained medically. At that point, The Vatican would declare Father McGivney to be blessed. Then, another miracle would have to happen for him to be declared a saint.